Summary of previous chapter: Misty arrived home only to find the situation was worse than described. Gary, her auditor, tells her all the major changes she has to make for the probation to take place. Misty learns she has been given another chance to keep the Gym thanks to Gary’s influence on the League. Gary mentions he owes it to Daisy, to which Misty pays not much heed. Gary tells Misty he will help her out on what she needs.
Chapter 3 – Handyman
The day was extremely bright, darn sunny and awfully hot in Cerulean City. The Cerulean Pokemon Gym had been closed for three days now, and the trainers who needed the Cascade Badge to continue their Pokemon journey were becoming very impatient. Some of them had left to other cities to earn other badges and later return to Cerulean to win the Cascade Badge. Many trainers were upset that they would have to wait two weeks to battle the Waterflower sister, especially when they believed they “would get the badge given to anyway,” and they saw it as a complete waste of time. Most of them knew about the new battling regulations imposed by the League, but blamed the Cerulean Gym Leaders for the League having to create them. Maya, the mysterious new Pokemon League President and current Pokemon Master had begun her reign with a blast, raising the bar for all trainers and Gym Leaders around the world, and not allowing children under the age of fifteen to become trainers, crushing the dream of thousands of children who had signed up early to become trainers as soon as they turned 10 years of age. She had also raised the number of minimum badges required to enroll and attend the Pokemon Tournament in Indigo Plateau to sixteen. She was very quiet and spoke rarely, but her iron fist was felt by everyone in the League, even the Dragon Master had to answer to her as well as soon as she took over. Things had surely changed for everyone who was involved with Pokemon in any way, and Maya was just getting started.
Gary Oak had been in research for the longest time, and had helped Professor Oak in making new discoveries in the evolution department. The recent discoveries of what researchers called “pre-evolutions” had shocked the Pokemon world. Gary had been particularly interested in learning how these so-called pre-evolutions had remained hidden for so many years until recently, and the reason why had these old-new Pokemon had shown themselves to the world after all these years. Although he missed his training and long journey days, researching had quickly proven to be more rewarding than his former job. He and Ash had become some sort of unofficial research partners throughout the years. Whenever Ash found a new species of Pokemon, he would make sure Gary knew about it as well. However, the more he learned about Pokemon, the more he wanted to go back to the training world and apply what he had learned in all this theory.
He had strongly believed he was not meant to be a Pokemon trainer, but as soon as some unique piece of information made way to his research, he would bang himself on the head for switching careers. It was absolutely true that research had brought him closer to his family, particularly Professor Oak, and that it had earned him fame and credibility among other older researchers, but there was always a part of him that screamed to drop the test tubes and lab experiments and return to what he truly loved: training. The more he wished he could return to his journey, the harder he worked in his lab. Outsiders saw this behavior as pure and uncanny devotion, but he knew deep inside this was just an easy way to concentrate on other matters, and forget what he believed he had lost for the rest of his professional career: his trainer life. There were some sleepless and hurtful nights when Gary had tried to quit his research job for a while and go back to his training days, but whenever he had gathered the courage to do so something remarkable had occurred in the research area that he could not allow to pass by. He held on to his research as hard as he could but the more he learned, the more he became obsessed with the idea he had to go back. He had spent sleepless nights trying to devise a plan that would surely place him back in the good ol’ training days, but nothing seemed to be plausible enough to him. Above everything else, Gary Oak’s major concern was to find a way to not look like a quitter to the rest of the world. He wanted to leave the research field as a great scientist who had no other choice but to move on to better things. He waited, and waited. Days became weeks; weeks became months; and months became years. He prayed. He hoped. He begged. He reached official adulthood and began to lose all hope.
Yet, one day, when any traits of faith seemed to have vanished, his wish finally came true. It was not until that day he received a phone call that placed him in his current job that he saw a light at the end of long, pitch dark tunnel. He had been helping Professor Oak in his most current task of figuring out why were Kabutops and Omastar able to be water- and rock type Pokemon at the same time, giving them a resistance to water and a resistance to electricity as well, even though these types were complete opposites. More important as this task was, it belonged more to Professor Oak than to Gary, making him sit in the back for most of the time, boring himself to death. The phone had ringed several times that day, but locked up in the basement, neither of the Oaks had heard it. May had been out who-knew-where and who-knew-how-long, meaning there was no one close enough to the telephone to respond to the call until Gary decided it was long pass chow time.
He left the basement to the little notice of his grandfather and lazily dragged himself up the stairs to and around his home until he arrived to the kitchen. He opened the door to his fridge and moved things here and there, looking for something quick to eat. He could not find anything that would not require much effort to cook, so he opted to attack the pantry in search for noodle soup. He smiled when he found the can and in a matter of minutes he was stirring the warm soup with a spoon, licking his lips in craving. He took a quick second to search for a bowl and turned around to return to the stove when the phone rang in the Oak mansion for perhaps the millionth time that day. “Gary Oak here, what do you want?”
“Oh my, how lucky I am to find you!”
“Forgive me for being so rude. I am current Pokemon Master and President of the Pokemon League, Maya Amherst.”
Gary was speechless for a second or two.
“May is that you? This isn’t funny at all! I am in the middle of lunch –dinner time!”
“I am confused. I am not this May person; I am Maya, from Indigo Plateau.”
“Last time I checked, yes. We Pokemon Masters have very little sense of humor, Mr. Oak.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s not common for the current Pokemon Master to casually pick up the phone and call my house, asking for me nonetheless.”
“I understand. However, this is not exactly a social call. I am calling you to offer you an opportunity to work for the League.”
“We are making major changes in the way things are done in the Pokemon League and the Association of Trainers and Gym Leaders. We need new blood in our team, and you have been recommended several times by many different people to join our new cause.”
“But, I am not a trainer anymore; haven’t been on the road for almost 7 years.”
“We understand that, but you had the trainer expertise and now you possess research expertise as well. You are truly valuable asset to increase the credibility of our association.”
Gary was speechless again.
“I…how…what kind of job would this be?”
“We require young people to become Pokemon League representatives in the Gyms. With so many changes being made with such short notice, we need trained representatives to assist and support the Gyms in their transition, as it will not be as easy of a task as they might think it will. We also require a loyal pair of eyes in each Gym, to assure the new regulations are enforced as trainers and Leaders become accustomed to them, and become part of their battling lives. As you can see, it is a very important task for the prosperity of our job, and for this reason this position is not open to the public. We reserve the right to invite who we believe can follow through with the job, and we are inviting you, Gary Oak.”
Gary had accepted right there and then, no more questions asked, knowing there was nothing he hated to lose if he even did. And even if at first he thought he had made the wrong decision, his current task was something he enjoyed. “It only cost me a burnt soup,” he recalled as the memory of hanging up the phone and running back to the kitchen only to find the soup was not edible anymore returned to him. He chuckled. “It was worth the starving that night.” Back to reality, a year after his career change took place, he was wearing his favorite pair of torn jeans, along with a white undershirt and blue tennis shoes. His sleeves were rolled up to his shoulders and he was wearing a red apron and a dark brown tool belt underneath it. Growing up in a wealthy home, Gary never had to go around and play handyman, or ever fix anything in his home or his own life for that matter. He had been brought up with the idea that there was always someone else that could fix things for him; someone who could make his life easier; someone who would do anything and everything for him, without him having to move a finger. This time, he felt the need to be that someone to help someone in need.
Truth be told, he had not been highly acquainted with the former girlfriend of his childhood friend, but the few days he had spent living with her under the same roof had taught him she was not the annoying brat he thought her to be. He knew, in the back of his mind, that at some point she thought the same about him and he did not blame her for it. He had been spoiled as a child, and he had been spoiled until the day Ash Ketchum beat him in battle. He had not understood many of the things he had been missing out until he lost to his former rival and now best friend. When he realized that Ash and Misty had officially become a couple, he was taken aback a little because he did not believe they had liked each other at all that much. It was true that he had teased them several times, but he did it mostly out of spite that he did not have as close friends as Ash did when he traveled. Even though a car full of cheerleaders followed him everywhere he went, the feeling of loneliness sometimes caught up with him. Ash had only Brock and Misty while Gary had ten cheerleaders rooting for him, and deep inside Gary knew Ash would not trade his two friends for all the cheerleaders in the world.
So, here he was. Helping this girl he hardly knew and almost never talked to, and with which any connection that existed between them had been reduced to becoming his supervisor by mistake. “Well, not by mistake but by choice,” Gary thought with a smile. Here he was, replacing broken windows around the Cerulean Pokemon Gym with no other help but the tools around his waist and the strength of his own bare hands while the Gym Leader painted the walls of her home a navy blue color. Misty had wanted to give the Gym a more serious tone and had decided to change the bright, chirpy, girly-looking colors of the Gym for more official-like, mature, serious darker blue tones. “It reflects the water-type Pokemon Gym,” she had told Gary when she chose the colors at the store. He did not know what he had signed up for when he accepted this job but all of the paperwork, all the work orders, all the business-to-business issues, all the replacing, all the remodeling, all the changes, all the sweat, all the tears, and the whole ‘bringing the gym back from the ashes’ felt as rewarding –or perhaps even much more rewarding, as his research career had felt at the beginning of it all. He was taking part in the remaking of a lost job, a creation of a new dream, and the feeling of making such a positive impact in the future life of one sole person was overwhelming. He had provided more moral and physical support to Misty in just three days than he had provided anything to anyone in his entire life.
“And it feels damn good.”
Gary carefully placed the last new glass, and perhaps the most important one, on its place. He had been replacing every window and glass door the Gym had with new, thicker and slightly tinted glass. He was now replacing the front doors’ glass that had been especially made to have the Gym hours printed on them, as well as the name and type of Gym. The right door had the words: “Cerulean City Pokemon Gymnasium” printed on white letters in a semicircle way. Right below the name of the gym, a huge replica of the Cascade badge was printed on it, this one with the original colors of the real badge on it. Right below the printing of the badge was a horizontal printed sentence that said: “Official Kanto Pokemon League Water Gym.” Misty was highly proud about that and she intended on keeping it that way. On the door of the left the new working hours of the gym were printed, encircled by a curved-corner rectangle. The announcement read:
“We happily take challengers on the following days and times:
Monday to Friday
8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday
Battles are by appointment only. Please call a week in advance to reserve.”
Misty could not begin taking any new appointments until Monday of next week, and trainers could not begin battling her until after the Monday after that. On the positive side, both Misty and Gary had worked extremely hard day-in and day-out to make all the necessary adjustments to the Gym before it opened for business next week. They hoped to finish up on Saturday to take care of minor details on Sunday, and begin scheduling battles and training Misty’s Pokemon all next week. Both the Pokemon and Misty had to get used to the new battling requirements, and they had to inform the incoming trainers about the new battling regulations of the Gym as well. Misty had ordered brochures to hand out to the trainers as they signed up for battle that explained what was expected of them, and what they could expect from the Gym. She had also placed an urgent order on underwater breathing devices, and the equipment to sterilize them after each battle at the end of the day. She was not going to let a health issue close down her gym, and kick her out of her childhood home. She was taking every single precaution needed to not allow the League to push her out of her only home.
Both trainers had made arrangements to take care of the outside of the building first. They had hired people to repaint the entire outside structure of the gym, and had also replaced the sign that had had been, for almost twenty years, above the building’s doors. Misty had been saddened to see the big Dewgong sign her parents had placed when she was only two years old been taken down and replaced with plain letters that said: “Cerulean Pokemon Gym.” Yet, she knew that times had changed, and that her parents were no longer around to see this. She only wished they were still alive to see the Gym being revamped like this. “I could really use your help now.” Misty thought as she saw the sign being taken down in parts and driven away back to the Pokemon League in Indigo Plateau. Needless to say, the outside changes made to the Gym attracted people and made them wonder about the changes going on inside. The gym’s temporal closure had been announced in the news, so it was no surprise that people had become aware of the gym’s remodeling in no time. Misty had to ask Cerulean’s police to keep an eye on the gym while they worked to prevent an overly curious civilian to become injured by the construction while trying to take a peek of the new inside looks of the gym. A part of her believed the League was out to get her, and they would take away her permit for the slightest mishap. She knew she was just being paranoid with the tons of paperwork she had to deal with, but that feeling of betrayal from the League creep up to her once in a while.
“If Ash betrayed me, there is no one else I can really trust now, can I?” Misty asked herself as she poured a last cube of ice in the lemonade she had just made. She picked up the plastic pitcher and a pair of plastic glasses from the table as she walked out from the kitchen and began walking towards the glass door that divided the Gym side of the building from the home side of it. “I can only trust myself,” she whispered. “What about Gary?” The little voice in her head asked. Misty stopped on her tracks, inches before reaching the door’s handle. Gary was just outside. She could see him from where she was standing, but the tinted glass would not allow him to see her there. Misty furrowed at remembering the last thought.
“What about him?” She replied.
“Look at the guy, on his knees, putting the finishing touches to the door of your Gym. YOUR gym, not his, yours! He has done nothing but help you since he got here, and you know more than anyone that without his help, you would still be swamped in confusing paperwork back at your office…or worse.”
Misty could not help to eye Gary with a condescending look. He was down on all fours, trying to perfectly align the bottom door stop to the actual door. He was dripping in sweat, his jeans and shirt dirty and almost transparent from the constant work of his pores. He pulled whatever fabric he could from his shirt and tried to dry his face, but there was not much of his shirt that was not dirty already. Misty saw his frustration and without thinking grabbed a towel before pushing the door and walking his way. The piston Gary had installed on the door was working perfectly as the door slowly and almost quietly returned to its original position, allowing Misty to continue to be unnoticed by the boy. Gary sat on the floor, taking a deep breath to vent his annoyance with the pity task he was performing and how poorly he was performing it. He stretched his right leg and bent the other one to rest his left arm on it while he held his weight with his right hand slightly behind him. He held the door stopper in his hand and studied it carefully. “You stupid piece of crap.”
Misty stood a few feet behind him. She was holding the pitcher on one hand, and the glasses and towel on the other. From where she stood, Gary’s muscles seem more pronounced, and his back seemed larger than she had felt when she hugged him several days ago. She had seen a pose like that before on someone else; someone she missed almost too much. For a few seconds, Misty saw Ash instead of Gary in front of her, wishing he was the one supporting her through this entire voyage, but she quickly realized it was not Ash but Gary who had chosen to stay behind and help her. “Did he really choose to stay behind? Or was he left behind like I was?”
“Does it really matter? He is here, and he is real.” The voice said.
“This is…his job.” Misty argued.
“Are you sure this is all it is to him?” The voiced asked.
“He owes something to Daisy. He is doing this to clear his conscious.” Misty said, not very convinced about the statement herself.
“Is he?” The voice asked.
“I hope not.”
While Misty was arguing against her inner voice, Gary sighed deeply to the sight of the door stopper still in his hand and not attached to the wall as it is supposed to be. He ran his fingers through his hair in desperation, and looked outside to see the sun disappearing in the horizon. “Is all this trouble really worth it for a badge?”
“Are you really doing it for a badge?” The voice inside his mind asked.
“What else could I be doing it for?” Gary replied.
“You are more selfless than you thought yourself to be.” The voice stated.
“It’s my job. I owe it to her.”
“All this trouble, just for a badge?” The voice insisted.
“I hope not.”
Misty realized she had been standing there for a few minutes without saying anything and began to felt awkward thanks to the voice inside her head. She shook her mind of any thought that had made way to her head in the last five minutes and decided to clear her throat to gain Gary’s attention. He quickly turned around and saw her give him a big smile. She was wearing blue jean shorts, a stripped pink blouse, white and pink tennis shoes, and her hair was held in a ponytail. She liked the way her hair looked long, but all this working had made her regret having long hair. She had let her hair grow for many years, and a week of hair on her face when she really did not need it was not going to be the cause for her making the mistake on cutting it short again. Gary returned the smile.
“I see you were having a deep conversation with that door stopper. I hope I am not interrupting anything important.” Misty teased.
“I was just telling her it is not meant to be. She is a door stopper, I am a playboy. It would have never worked out.”
“Is that your night job, a playboy?”
“Please don’t tell anyone!”
Misty giggled. “I thought you might be thirsty. Want some lemonade?”
Gary’s eyes sparkled and his lips turned up in a big smile. He had to admit that as a researcher he had become slightly addicted to coffee and its wondrous keeping-one-awake effects, but at this moment the least he needed was something hot traveling down his throat. “Lemonade sounds great!”
Misty sat behind him and he turned around to face her. She placed the pitcher on the floor, as well as the glasses and began pouring the yellow drink in them. Gary looked at his hands and saw how dirty they were, and began looking around for something to clean them up. Misty saw this from the corner of her eye and remembered she had brought a towel for him. She handed him the towel and he gratefully accepted it, cleaning his face first and then patting sweat from his neck and hands. “You think of everything, don’t you?”
“I have a gift, some might say,” Misty said as she handed him the glass with lemonade. Gary held it and took a big drink out of it before speaking again. “Does that gift include knowing how to put a door stopper on a wall?”
Misty could not help to laugh but then felt bad about it all. She took a sip of her lemonade and then held the glass with both her hands resting on her lap. “Gary, I am so sorry you have to deal with this, if only the League would let us hire people to do this for me I wouldn’t have to share the annoying responsibility with you. If I knew you would get in trouble for me hiring those people to paint the outside walls I would have not done it.”
As soon as the job outside was done, the League called Gary and reprimand him from allowing Misty to use other people to help her do her job. The League believed that if the Gym Leader himself went through all the trouble of maintaining his Gym, he would appreciate it more and take ownership of his job. Gary had told them he had forgotten about this rule, and he truly had forgotten about it. The League had told him that they would overlook it this time around, but that any other mistake on either his or her part would cost them the opportunity he had worked so hard to get for her. “Part of the reason the Waterflower leaders failed to comply with the rules of the League was that they did not take care of their Gym on their own. They did not work hard for what they had and therefore did not take any pride in what they did.” Maya had told Gary over the phone. “You know that first hand, Mr. Oak.”
Gary took another sip of his lemonade, forgetting about the memory that had been brought back to his mind, and looked outside to see the sun was finally gone. “This Cerulean summer is horrible, you know? Back in Pallet Town we don’t have summers like these. It’s hot as hell out there.”
Misty frowned. “Gary, I am trying to apologize for what is happening, you almost lost our job. You should not be suffering with all this handyman work for no one.”
“We should really close those metal panels now. People will try and see what we are doing in here. This is a work in progress and no outsider should take a sneak peek.”
Gary reached up and pressed the password on the keypad attached to the wall. The combination activated the automatic metal door and began a downward motion until the front doors and big windows around the gym were covered by them. A loud thud around the place announced that the gym was secured and protected by the metal coverings. Gary had suggested installing metal doors to cover the Gym at night to prevent people from breaking the newly installed glass walls, doors and windows. The idea had expanded to install security around the building and around the outside perimeter of the gym. A robotic female voice in the intercom said: “Building is secure. Have a great night, young, hot Mr. Oak.” Gary looked back at Misty with a smile on his face. “Works like a charm, eh?” Misty just eyed him, sadness still lurking in her eyes. “Ok, I promise I will change that before I leave. It’s just to boost my ego a little bit.” She nodded and stood, up, leaving the pitcher and glasses on the floor. “I will leave them here in case you get thirsty. I am going to finish painting the training room and I will be done for the night.”
She turned around and began walking until Gary’s hand on her arm stopped her. “Misty, please wait.” Misty looked at his hand and slowly turned around to face him. He did not say anything right away but kept staring deeply into her eyes. Misty realized she was doing the same thing to him and immediately broke eye contact with him. She looked away and asked Gary what he needed from her. “Misty, I am sorry, ok. I didn’t mean to be rude just now and ignore your concern. I just think it’s stupid to think about things you can’t change. I didn’t get fired, and you still have your gym, that is all that matters, isn’t it?”
“No buts, I don’t mind doing all of this, really. It’s actually kinda fun. I feel useful ‘round here.”
“I will repay you, somehow. I promise I will repay you for all of your help.”
“Puh-lease! I don’t need anything in return! It’s my job, ok? Don’t feel bad about me doing my job.”
“You are my auditor, not my slave.”
“But I am also your friend. Or so I will tell the League when they find out I have been helping you out.”
“What?! Is that against the rules too?”
Gary chuckled. “Chill out, red. I am just kidding.”
“Gary, if helping me is against the rules you better tell me right now!”
Gary lifted his arms in an innocent stance. “It’s not! It’s not! I swear!”
Misty sighed. “Alright. I am almost done with all the painting. I’ll finish that up, take a shower and prepare us some dinner. Is that ok with you?”
Gary smiled and nodded. “Dinner sounds perfect. I’ll install this door stopper and take a shower as well. I’ll meet you in the kitchen should you need me, ok?”
“Ok. See you in a few.”
Gary smiled and stared at her, waiting for her to move but she just stood there, looking at him with a wide smile. “Misty, is everything ok?”
“Yes, but I need both of my hands to paint.”
Gary looked down and realized he was holding both of Misty’s hands in his. He let go of them and turned around, robotically picking up the door stopper and getting to work. “When did I grab them in the first place?”
Misty smiled at his action and reaction and then turned around to make her way to the training room to finish her job. Tomorrow they would pick up on different tasks than today; tasks that required less tedious jobs. The gym was done from the outside. The walls inside were almost a 100 percent completely repainted. All the glass doors and windows were replaced. The carpets had been replaced as well, and the home part of the gym was remodeled and sparkling clean. The tasks for the next three days were mostly decorating and making adjustments to the battling arena, setting up the electronic appointments system, ordering more official badges, setting up the winners’ wall, installing the machines in the training room, and finally releasing the Pokemon into their new water tanks. They planned to leave Friday and Saturday to prepare, complete and send any paperwork required for the Gym to be ready to open starting on Monday, and use Sunday to rest, if possible.
Misty arrived to the training room and sighed knowing she still had half a wall to paint. She hurried up and in about half an hour finished painting the remaining of the wall. She picked up after herself, turned off the light of the training room, and closed the door. She then took a shower and struggled to scrape all the paint off her skin and hair before drying up herself and jumping into her pajamas. She held a towel in her hands and begun drying her hair in front of her bathroom mirror. She stared at herself and wondered what was so wrong with her to make Ash want to leave her at all. It was true she was not very pretty, at least not compared to her sisters, but she knew she was not ugly either. She was smart and caring about everyone, including her Pokemon, and she always looked up for everyone she cared about. “Why did he leave me? Why wasn’t I good enough for him?”
The more she looked at herself, the more she realized how tired she looked. She had been working day and night for the past three days. This was the first night where she could say she was able to go to bed as early as ten at night. “I wonder if Ash had stayed with me through all of this.” She knew that the old Ash would have stayed with her for the next six months without even thinking about it and without any regrets but the old Ash was long gone. He had gotten lost in the transition to adulthood and the new Ash would have not dared to even consider leaving his Pokemon training for a day for anyone on this Earth. “Why didn’t you stay with me, Ash? I need you so much right now.”
Then it dawned on her. She gasped and let go of her towel when she realized a very important piece of information she had been ignoring all along. Had her sisters not said they told Ash about this? How much did he know about it when he dumped her? Was he told she had to take over the Gym for them? Was he told if she did not take over it, her sisters would lose it? Or was he simply told to tell her to call them back? How much of the current situation did he really know? “Did he know I would have to choose between him and the gym? Did he make that decision for me? Does he still love me?”
Misty felt hope coming back to her heart at the realization of the fact Ash could have planned their breakup for her own good. She wanted to believe he would come back at the end of this hell she was living, and that he would come back as the Ash she met and fell in love with. “Will he come back for me? Will he take me back with him?” Misty felt tears forming in her eyes at remembering all the bad things she said and thought about him. “He was protecting me, this has to be it! He still loves me, he must still love me!” Misty took deep breaths to calm down and dried whatever tears were left on her face with a towel. She could not let Gary see her like this. He would surely worry about her. “Gary doesn’t need more worries than the worry of losing his job over me. Just like Ash didn’t need the burden of me losing my home over him.”
Misty cleared her throat and smiled at the striking possibility that this was all an act from Ash. In her heart she believed this was just another obstacle in their life, and that as soon as those six months were over, he would walk right in, and that she would leave with him. “Gary and he are friends! He must know about this! This was why he came here! To help me through with it!” She told herself. “Gary is an angel. I will owe this to him for the rest of my life.” Misty finally composed herself after having such encouraging thoughts in her mind and gave herself one final look in the mirror before heading downstairs to make dinner. She was wearing purple pajama pants, and a lighter purple shirt. Her hair was down and still damp when she arrived to the kitchen only to find dinner was ready and served.
“I hope you like Chinese,” Gary said while handing a bowl of soup to her. He was also in his night outfit that consisted of plain blue pajama pants, and a clean white shirt. “I do; thanks! You didn’t have to do this.”
Gary scratched his nose. “I know, but I guessed you were as tired as I am, and didn’t think it was fair for you to work some more and make dinner for the both of us.”
Misty smelled the soup in her hands and it smelled delicious. She took a sip of it and then sat down on the table where Gary was already down to business with his food. “This is so tasty, Gary! Thank you so much!”
Gary gave her a thumbs-up as his mouth was filled with food. Seeing Gary eating like that reminded her of Ash and their traveling together. She sure missed Brock’s cooking as well. They both ate in silence until they were stuffed. Gary rested his back on the chair and stretched his leg under the table. Misty took a last bite of her food and took a deep breath. “I am exhausted,” she said while resting her chin over her folder arms on the table.
Gary sighed as well and rested his head on his left hand. “Tell me about it! This has to be the best workout I have ever had. I don’t think walking everywhere while I was trainer compares to this.”
“I know! Speaking of which, if I may ask, why did you quit research? I thought you liked it too much?”
Gary smirked. “I thought I did too. But then again, who would pass out an opportunity to work for the Pokemon League. I feel like some sort of ambassador for them.”
“I would pass out on working for the League any day.”
“Sure, you’ve been working for the League since you were born!”
“I was not! My parents did.”
“And then you became the leader of this gym.”
“Not by choice, mind you.”
Gary raised an eyebrow. “Really? So you are saying that you would pass out on being the best water Pokemon gym leader? The efforts I have seen you put into this project doesn’t quiet add up to that story of yours.”
Misty placed her cheek on the table to avoid his I-got-you look. “There are some things you think you really want in life. You work hard to get them and then something else comes along; something unexpected that ends up being better than what you thought you truly wanted. You don’t realize when, but while you were working hard on achieving your first goal…you…you fall in love with something you didn’t know it even existed at all.”
“…or something you didn’t know you wanted all along.” Gary added.
Misty nodded, still on the table. “Then you know what I am talking about when I say I pass on staying as the leader of this gym for the rest of my life.”
“And then you also understand why I am not in research anymore.”
Misty didn’t say anything back and Gary remained quiet as well for a while. It was amusing to him how the both of them, having very different lives, had wound up working together to achieve a common goal neither of them had ever thought they would have to achieve. Both of them had ended up here without even realizing, and without having a true saying in the matter. She had ended up here to help save whatever was left of her family, and he had been sent here to make sure it was done. As much as either of them wanted to deny it, their lives were very similar in eerie ways, and it was bound to happen for their lives to collide the way they did.
“Look Misty. I know we are not the best of friends but you are not as evil as I thought you were. Whenever I saw you, you were screaming at Ash and I always wondered why he ever loved you like he did. After you guys got together, he would tell me wonders about you, but to be honest I thought love had blinded him to the point of no return.”
Misty did not reply.
“What I am trying to say is that I am sorry I ever thought or felt bitter of you. If we are going to be working together as we are, you need to know that I will leave all those negative thoughts behind and help you as much as I can. As I said, I am here as a friend, and I hope you see me as your friend as well.”
He stayed quiet for a minute, waiting for her to say anything at all. Five minutes passed and he began feeling regretful of what he had said. “Maybe the thought of Ash not being here made her feel uncomfortable? ****, I blew it already!”
He slowly stood up from the chair and went around searching for her face only to realize she was asleep. Gary smacked his forehead and sighed. “Jeez, you could at least told me you were gonna pass out on me, red.”
Gary squatted in front of her and smiled. Her hair was partially covering her face, and her lips were slightly parted. He extended his arms and reached out for her, slowly and carefully picked her up from the chair and carried her in his arms. “You’ll be sore tomorrow if I don’t get ya to bed.” He turned around and went up the stairs and down the hall until he arrived to her room. He opened the door and turned on the light before walking to her bed and laying her down on it. He grabbed the blanket that rested at her feet and covered her up to her stomach with it. “Good night, Misty.”
He walked back and after turning off the light, he closed the door and made his way to his room. He lay on his bed and thought about the girl he had just carried to her bed a few minutes ago. The girl that he would be calling his friend soon.
The girl he will live with for six months.
The girl who he will watch out for, for the rest of his life.
The girl that was wishing him a good night sleep from underneath her covers in the confines of her heart.